A Flag Of My Forefathers No Longer

T Davina McClain

T Davina McClain

My great grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Wagner, was a Sergeant in the 1st Alabama Infantry Regiment. He owned a plantation in Alabama and fought for what he believed was right. He was a good man who raised a large family after the war, a family which included my grandfather, who himself was a WWI veteran and then a minister in the Church of Christ.

Although I am descended from a Confederate soldier, I cannot embrace the Confederate Battle Flag, and I do not consider it as representing my heritage. Maybe at one time that flag could represent just Southern heritage, but that time has long since passed. Because groups dedicated to hatred, racism, and even murder have appropriated this symbol and made it theirs in no unmistakable terms,

Benjamin Franklin Wagner

Benjamin Franklin Wagner

that flag has been forever tainted. I wish that at some point in the past the members of the Confederacy had stood up to the racists and told them that they could not use that flag as their symbol – but they did not. They let groups like the KKK and the Aryan Nation and other White Supremacist organizations have that flag and turn it into their symbol, and now it can no longer be a symbol of good men who died for a cause. And although I know some want to believe that the Confederate Battle Flag can represent the heritage of the South, it just isn’t possible anymore. There is too much blood from lynchings and murderers and too much hate associated with that flag now. And it is there, even if you don’t want to see it. It is just too late to redeem that flag.

It is not the first time this has happened. Consider the swastika, a design that appeared as early as 10,000BC and was prominent in designs on pottery and in mosaics throughout the ancient Greco-Roman world. No matter how pretty the design, the swastika is now inseparable from the crimes and racism and genocide of Nazi Germany. It can never be redeemed and can never be the simple pretty design that it was before Hitler. It is too late for that image.

Similarly, who can now hear the name Isis and think just of the Egyptian Goddess of life and resurrection? No, that name is now associated with terrorists.

The same is true of the Confederate Battle Flag. Those who want it to represent just heritage have been robbed by those who have used it to represent hate. This is the time, then, to find a new symbol, maybe one of the other flags that can represent the pride of Southerners in their heritage. But this particular flag is too damaged, too tainted, and now represents such racist hatred that it has no place in the Natchitoches Christmas Parade and honestly, no place among good men who fought with valor.

To honor my great grandfather’s memory and the life he built after the war and the family he raised and the battles my grandfather and other members of my family have fought, I prefer to fly the flag of the United States. I hope y’all will too. Merry Christmas!

Davina McClain

The Natchitoches Parish Journal received this submission from T. Davina McClain. The views and opinions expressed are those of Ms. McClain and not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal.  If you have an article or story of interest for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to NPJNatLa@gmail.com.

19 thoughts on “A Flag Of My Forefathers No Longer

  1. so the mean old kkk stole the flag . you said it like the southern people just let them have it. what did they do walk up and ask hey can we use your flag? the kkk used the american flag first and still does. do you hate that flag to?

  2. Benjamin Franklin Wagner is not the only Confederate veteran you descend from. You have a ggg-grandfather, William Zedekiah “Zid” McClain (not to be confused with his grandson, your g-grandfather William Zedekiah “Kiah” McClain). You don’t mention him; do you know about him? Here’s a link. Looks like you could qualify for a Daughter of the Texas Republic through him – but you disclaim your heritage and the Flag he fought under – for that regiment he fought for was at 2nd Manassas, so he most definitely fought under the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia.
    http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~txhousto/biographies/mcclain.william.z.htm
    You can definitely throw this history and heritage away. These men were only the people who gave your ancestors life, and made your existence possible. Let racists, race-baiters and haters determine your choices and what you are allowed to be proud of.
    I’ve read a bit about your family. Y’all have made a virtue out of all sorts of experiences and varied cultures. My family followed much the same migration path as yours. I am a CA native who only learned in these past 15 years about my heritage. I thank God for it; because it completed something about me that I merely sensed was missing before.
    Right now, this is still a free country and you are free to do what you want. As for me, I now have to fight for the freedom to do what I want, and to honor my ancestors and what they fought for and believed in. This is NOT racist. People who say that it is are tools for an agenda to hurt me, to hate me. They do so because they ran out of genuine grievances to hustle; and rather than build themselves and their heritage up, recognizing and thanking God for that progress, they manufacture one to keep the hate and the lies going. And you are benefiting off of throwing me, your ancestors deeply-held beliefs, and the truth that would enhance us ALL under the bus.
    I feel sorry for you… God help you.

      • Terry Ollin McClain was the son of
        Ollin McClain, who was the son of
        William Zedekiah “Kiah” McClain.

        Now it could well be that there’s another T. Davina McClain out there. But it’s not like your name is “Jefferson Davis”, and you can confuse the researcher/observer with the 1000 other Jefferson Davises out there.

        You don’t even know where you come from. I find that a lot with people who trash their heritage. You have a right not to value these things. It is, however, ironic that your profession is to study ancient cultures – when you do not even know your own.

        One has to wonder, then, if it’s the history and facts that matter to you – or how you can exploit them for your own purposes.

        I submit that people who know and value their heritage are of more value when it comes to determining the course of thise country and their communities. It saves people from being thrown whichever way the windbags blow. Or, as Karl Marx said, Take away a nation’s heritage, and they are more easily persuaded.

        Terry O. McClain
        Died: September 20, 2005

        Terry O. McClain, of Shady Shores, passed away at his home on September 20, 2005. He was born on August 2, 1937 in Waco, Texas to Ollin and Catherine McClain. He married Florence Wagner on August 10, 1956. He was an Engineer at Bell Helicopter after 34 years, retiring in 2000. He was active in his community and anywhere he saw a need for help.

        Terry is survived by his wife of 49 years, Florence W. McClain his daughter Prof. T. Davina McClain and her husband Prof. Willie Major, his daughter Gloria Ramaley and her husband Ken and grandchildren Hunter, Malcolm, and Charlotte, as well as many friends.

        At Terry’s request, there will be a celebration of his life at 1PM, Oct. 1, 2005 at the The Shady Shores Community Center. Terry will be cremated and his ashes scattered in his favorite wilderness area at a later date. Donations in his memory may be made to Ann’s Haven Hospice 216 West Mulberry Denton, Texas 76201-6012 or to a favroite charity.

  3. For the life of me, I cannot comprehend why there is so much love for this piece of material, but not for those that it so obviously hurts. Why put so much emphasis on doing something that has caused pain and represents hate? If it means so much to you, buy a set of confederate flag sheets and have great married sex on them! This uproar over the flag instead of respect for those who stood in the lines of fire and gave their lives is far from honorable. The hate and lack of respect for the human race is saddening.

  4. BRAVO!!! As a descendant of a Confederate Veteran, thank you for expressing this belief shared by so many (although they may not be as loud as those who support the flying of the flag). Eventually, we will learn to let go of these symbols tarnished by hate, we can grow as a united society. You are not alone.

  5. I respectfully disagree. You state that you wish someone had stood up to the people who promoted hate and violence using this flag as a symbol?
    I say Martin Luther King did just that. The civil rights movement, desegregation, and equal rights became law. We are not fighting the battles of the 1960’s.
    Our government, from the office of the President all the way down to the lowly Mayor of Natchitoches is helping to create a race division that our country hasn’t seen in 50 years. Your intentions may be honorable, but the results are anything but, by attempting to appease your own sense of conscience, you are an affront to many.

    • Gary, you missed the point. MLK did not own the flag as southern heritage. He opposed a flag that represented oppression. Ms McClain was stating that she wished the people who are claiming the flag as their proud heritage would have fought against the hate groups that were distorting its meaning.

      • In actual fact, Randy Oates, Martin Luther King Jr. DID march right alongside the Battle Flag. There are Civil Rights-era buttons which HAVE the Battle Flag on them, on marchers who were right alongside Peace and Civil Rights marchers. It’s hard to find the truth in the midst of all the noise and revisionist LIES, but there it is. There was also a very radical man who ran a radio program called Dixie Free Radio – a friend of mixed race remembered it and told me. You see, she and others like her are concerned about the color of their skins employed to lie to people and deprive us of our SHARED heritage – nor does she wish to dishonor one set of ancestors in a false attempt to honor another side. You cannot honor with lies, you cannot appease with lies.

  6. How true lady the KKK used our Battle Flag for their parades. It was not the true flag of the Confederacy, and I doubt most people of southern heritage would recognize one of the official flags of the Confederacy, as there were several design changes. But this flag was designed for a distinct difference to the Union Flag. You see the official Confederate Government Flag looked a lot like the United States Flag and It caused chaos on the battle field. So you see why this flag is so revered, it only represented the battle field where so many men give their lives, legs and arms. No other flag represents that. The official government flags represented the Confederate Government, would you have us to fly that flag!!!! You see this Battle Flag is just that a flag that men fought under for identification on the field of battle and that is why we hold it in high regard not the official Flag of the Confederate Government. You see my gr-grandfather fought and was wounded in that war. He nor his father owned any slaves so I guess he must have put his life on the line so the guy down the road could have his. I don’t think I would have signed up for that!!!! Did you know that is not the battle flag used in Louisiana? It was the same design but with a blue background and red bars. The Clan also wore white sheets, are they next? We can only sleep on politically correct pastel colored sheets. Sounds silly but so does your idea of exchanging flags. People need to read some history before it is all erased!!!!!!!!

  7. I just do not believe you can rewrite history.In some book or some newspaper or some video or some picture it is going to come up as is.Covering it up does not help!

  8. Really??? Drop it and just let it go just like that?? If that is you wish than go ahead, but I read where you wrote you wished someone would stand up for what was right, yet you are saying the hate groups can have it.. Well, I will not back down.. I will have NOTHING to do with Natchitoches this holiday season because of what the mayor is doing.

    • God bless you, John McAlpin.

      And the more those who would throw away (or give away) there heritage blog about it – or lie about it, as did SC Rep. Jenny Horne (who is now writing a book and speaking on the NAACP ticket to PC infamy) – the more many of us will say, 150 years of attempted Reconstruction and counting. A lie is still a lie. We were told teaching hate was wrong. Anyone who thinks racists and communists can rewrite what 100s of 1000s of Southerners of ALL colors for ALL their posterity fought for can pound sand. The only reasons this is even an issue is 1) the NAACP and other race baiters ran outta grievances to agitate, and 2) historical ignorance due to failing schools. Oh yes – and the cowardice and error of appeasement.

    • I agree John and Maeve.
      To surrender that flag to white supremacists without a fight is morally the same as telling them it would be okay for them to continue without objection to misuse that honored flag my ancestor died under to harm and intimidate people with….and that is something that I will never, NEVER, do.

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